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HP Softbench was one of the first plug-in Integrated Development Environment (IDE) tool based on the UNIX operating system, UNIX tools and the X Window System.

The main ideas were:

  • Tools and data can reside on many different systems across the network
  • Tool communication using a Broadcast Message Server
  • Common user interface
  • Integrated help facility
  • Tool Slots
  • Encapsulator: tool for encapsulate any CASE tool into a Tool Slot if it supports standard I/O.


SoftBench was released in 1989 and presented in the June 1990 HP Journal.[1] It was an early adoption of some of the IDE ideas that are common today in well known IDEs like Eclipse.


  1. ^ Cagan, Martin R. (June 1990). "The HP SoftBench Environment: An Architecture for a New Generation of Software Tools". Hewlett-Packard Journal. 41 (3): 36–47.